How to Determine the Value of Your Old Family Items

Many of us treasure the things passed down through the generations. However, if you need to quickly generate some cash or are just tired of lugging around certain historical objects that nobody else wants, there are ways to sell your old family items to someone who will cherish them.


The current trend toward minimalisms has led to a rejection of patterned, painted, or embellished dinnerware. If you have a particular pattern or painted dinnerware set, such as Limoge plates, they may be lovely, but they’re probably not worth much.

Older pieces may be more popular, but you will need to carefully review the collection to make sure the whole set is in good shape. Check out eBay and other online sales platforms for a full set of the dinnerware you currently own and want to sell.

Once you know the valuation options, you may be able to either complete the set with a few replacements, or you could become a replacements distributor yourself.


Getting your heirloom furniture valued may require you to pull some cushions or flip some pieces over. For example, if you have a craftsman armchair that’s a Stickley according to family lore, you may need to determine the date of creation and the shop it came from.

There were five Stickley brothers, and their marks all changed over time. Should you find the mark of an A, made of a compass tool, you have a Gustav. A chair marked with the Onondaga Shop, you have a piece from L & JG, or Leonard and John George.

If your piece is ornate, you may struggle to find a buyer in today’s tiny house, minimalist style. Prepare to have a lower valuation on Grandma’s marble-topped plant table or the ornate music rack that stood beside her piano.

However, if you have pieces from early in the 20th century that has stood the test of time and you want to downsize and sell, consider bringing in a living estate sale professional. These folks make their living getting good prices on your down-sizing process. You may not get the top prices, but you can get an honest valuation and let someone else take care of the marketing.


If you keep your favorite toys from childhood and they have some life in them, you may be in luck. Collectors aren’t the only ones looking for the gems of your childhood. Trying to figure out where can I sell toys no longer in the packaging can actually be pretty simple.

Should you be ready to turn loose of your Star Wars, Super Heroes, or Barbie doll sets, visit your local flea markets to see what collectors are displaying. If you notice someone who is generating decent sales, they may be willing to make you an offer or to sell for you on consignment.


Unsigned wall art may not generate a great amount of cash, but carefully review the matting and the material used for the painting or the drawing. Paper that has stood the test of time may be more valuable than canvas prints of the same age.

If your art is signed, do some research on the artist. if they’ve passed away, your art may be worth more than if the artist is still living. While this may seem ghoulish, the background on this is quite simple; the collection of this artist will never be expanded, so the art that has been passed down among your family members is inherently unique.

Monetary Vs. Story Value

Carefully consider the story value of your heirlooms. If your great-grandma transported her mother’s cameo or pearls when she escaped danger as a young girl, it may not have much of a cash value but the story value is remarkable. If your heirs don’t want to be bothered with some older pieces, make sure that you document what you know about the piece; even anecdotal data may be valuable to a potential buyer.

Everything you inherit has a story. Our cultural requirements change over time; you may not want fancy painted chine because it doesn’t suit your tastes, so look for someone who would love this set and do some negotiating. If you have the interest, space, and time, you will likely make more off of heirlooms that can be parsed out and sold separately.

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